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My name is Titania, after the fairy queen in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. My mother obviously didn’t bother running a mental list of the nicknames kids could invent with a name like that. If she had, she might have spared me, especially after I sprouted early and abundantly the summer after sixth grade. Middle school was horrible enough without handing my tormentors a ready-made insult in a D-cup sling. No matter how many times I insisted my name was pronounced “TIE-tay-nee-ah,” the boys would say it, “TIT-ay-nee-ah.”

I am not beautiful like my namesake. I’m not even a “project” candidate—some badly-dressed, greasy-haired schlump who only needs a good scrubbing and a make-over from well-meaning popular girls in order to shine. I’d need major medical intervention to even come close, and I don’t happen to have a rich godmother, fairy or otherwise, who can whisk me off to L.A. for a relaxing vacation of reconstructive surgery.

Not that L.A. is the place to go for anything anymore, unless you need some rubble. All the states along the Pacific Ring of Fire were slammed with earthquakes and volcanoes during the Cataclysm. California took the biggest hit, well, as far as loss of life and property anyway. Sure, Hawaii and Alaska are messed up, and there’s a big glassy hole where Yellowstone used to be, but those places didn’t lose as many people. Eastern Washington, where me and my mom used to live, got mostly burnt out. All our firefighters were off helping get San Francisco under control and there was no one left to stop the wildfires.

I had barely started my junior year in high school when the Cataclysm began. A week later, it was over and my high school, the whole city for that matter, was gone. It’s been eight months, and schools all over the country are finally beginning to reopen. Everything is starting to get back to normal except in the worst areas, where martial law is still in effect. Texas took the opportunity to declare itself its own country, and for awhile there, it looked like Congress was too busy elsewhere to respond. They did quash it eventually, with troops that abandoned the Middle East to the holy wars that broke out. But once communication was reestablished as power poles and cell towers were fixed, and merchandise began making its way into stores as roads and bridges were repaired, the places least affected began to get back to life as usual.

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